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Aces and Faults: Indian Wells recap

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Flavia Pennetta

Flavia Pennetta beat the top-two seeds en route to the Indian Wells title. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Aces and Faults recaps the week in tennis. Here is our review of the BNP Paribas Open.

Trophy Winners

Novak Djokovic: He may not have been dominant, but this run to his first title of the year was precisely what Djokovic needed to jump-start his season. Djokovic wobbled in dropping a set to No. 91 Alejandro Gonzalez, getting blasted off the court for a set by Marin Cilic and being broken twice while serving for the match against John Isner. But Djokovic was battle-tested by the time he arrived in the final, as he showed in rebounding in the third-set tiebreaker after failing to serve it out against Roger Federer.

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  • Published On Mar 17, 2014
  • Flavia Pennetta wins BNP Paribas Open

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    Flavia Pennetta

    Flavia Pennetta won Indian Wells for the first time. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

    INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — No. 21 Flavia Pennetta won the biggest title of her 14-year career on Sunday, defeating an ailing Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2, 6-1 in the final of the BNP Paribas Open.

    Pennetta, who turned 32 last month, won her first Premier Mandatory title. The Italian will rise to No. 12 on Monday, only two spots shy of her career high, set in August 2009 when she became the first woman from her country to crack the top 10. This was her first title since 2010, a string of 76 tournaments, and the 10th of her career.

    “After so many years and so much work, this is the moment I’ve always been waiting for,” Pennetta said. “And it’s coming when you don’t expect it, because in the beginning of the week I never expected to be the champion or to be in the final or semifinal.”

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  • Published On Mar 16, 2014
  • Flavia Pennetta stuns Li Na, will face Aga Radwanska in Indian Wells final

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    Flavia Pennetta

    Flavia Pennetta is into her first Premier Mandatory final. ( Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

    INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — No. 21 Flavia Pennetta won the battle of the veterans at the BNP Paribas Open on Friday night, upsetting top seed Li Na 7-6 (5), 6-3 to advance to her first WTA Premier Mandatory final.

    The 32-year-old Italian will face No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska in Sunday’s final. Radwanska beat Simona Halep 6-3, 6-4 in a highly entertaining match.

    Pennetta’s win over Li reads ugly on the stat sheet. Li hit nine double faults and 52 unforced errors, and the two combined for 11 service breaks. Early in the match, Li told her husband to leave the stadium after the two had a disagreement during her warm-up; she needed to usher him away to focus.

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  • Published On Mar 15, 2014
  • Simona Halep makes history with rise to No. 5 in WTA rankings

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    Simona Halep

    Simona Halep is seeking her second title of the year and eighth since last June. (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

    INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — BNP Paribas Open semifinalist Simona Halep will rise to a career-high No. 5 in next week’s WTA Tour rankings, the highest position ever for a Romanian woman. The tour says the top five on Monday will be Serena Williams, Li Na, Agnieszka Radwanska, Victoria Azarenka and Halep.

    Halep is No. 7 this week, but she will pass No. 5 Maria Sharapova and No. 6 Angelique Kerber after making her first Premier Mandatory semifinal. In January, the 22-year-old joined her manager, former French Open champion Virginia Ruzici, who peaked at No. 8, and former U.S. Open semifinalst Irina Spirlea, who reached No. 7, as the only top-10 Romanian women.

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  • Published On Mar 13, 2014
  • Maria Sharapova offers to swap dress designs with Serena Williams

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    (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

    Maria Sharapova will play Italy’s Camila Giorgi in the third round on Monday. (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

    INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Something surprising happened in the middle of Maria Sharapova’s 6-1, 6-4 victory over Julia Goerges in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open on Saturday: Serena Williams tweeted a quick fashion review.

    Both women are sponsored by Nike, but it was still a surprising tweet from Williams given the tension that escalated between them last year at Wimbledon. Sharapova was nonetheless flattered and jokingly suggested that the two tennis icons exchange dress designs.

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  • Published On Mar 09, 2014
  • Injured Victoria Azarenka loses to Lauren Davis at Indian Wells

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    Victoria Azarenka was clearly in pain throughout the match. (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

    Victoria Azarenka was clearly in pain throughout the match. (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

    INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — No. 4 Victoria Azarenka admitted she may have come back from injury too early after suffering an awkward and painful 6-0, 7-6 (2) loss to No. 66 Lauren Davis in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open on Friday.

    Azarenka injured her left foot three days before the Australian Open and played through the pain to make the quarterfinals. Since then, she wore a walking boot for three weeks and resumed practicing only last week. Watching her practice sessions this week, it showed.

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  • Published On Mar 08, 2014
  • Taylor Townsend, 17, earns confidence-boosting win over Karin Knapp

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    Taylor Townsend

    Taylor Townsend overcame a sloppy first set to advance. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

    INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — There’s just something about the desert air that suits Taylor Townsend.

    The 17-year-old American wild card beat No. 49 Karin Knapp 7-6 (1), 6-1 on Thursday in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open, her first WTA victory since defeating Lucie Hradecka here last year in her tour debut.

    Townsend, ranked No. 337, split last season between the junior and senior tours. Her best result came at Wimbledon, where she made the girls’ final and lost to junior No. 1 Belinda Bencic. After falling in the final round of qualifying at the U.S. Open, she finished the season on the ITF circuit, going 0-4.

    But it’s not necessarily about results for Townsend right now. She is dividing her training between Chicago and Washington, D.C., where she’s coached by Zina Garrison, and says the biggest improvement in her game over the last year has been mental.

    “My coaches and I have been stressing being very mentally tough and learning the game, learning how things work,” she said. “We’ve been watching a lot of matches and trying to understand how to play when pressure hits, how to play when you’re up, how to play when you’re down. Things like that.”

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  • Published On Mar 07, 2014
  • Serena Williams commits to Bank of the West Classic

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    Serena Williams

    Serena Williams won the 2012 Bank of the West Classic without dropping a set. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

    Two-time champion Serena Williams has committed to the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, Calif., in July, the tournament announced.

    The top-ranked Williams won the Premier-level event in 2011 and ’12 but did not play last year. The tournament, which runs from July 28-Aug. 3, comes three weeks after Wimbledon and launches the U.S. Open Series.

    Williams joins a 28-player field scheduled to include defending champion Dominika Cibulkova, who made the Australian Open final in January, and Ana Ivanovic, who upset Serena in the fourth round in Melbourne.

    The 32-year-old Williams is not entered in this week’s BNP Paribas Open, a tournament she has skipped since 2001. Her next tournament is the Sony Open in two weeks.


  • Published On Mar 05, 2014
  • Li Na, Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka top field at Indian Wells

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    Li Na has not been in great form since her first major victory. (David Callow/SI)

    Li Na has been out of form since her second major victory. (David Callow/SI)

    With the recent shake-up in the WTA’s top five, which saw top-three stalwarts Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova drop to Nos. 4 and No. 5, respectively, the BNP Paribas Open will be a shootout to the end. There’s just no clear favorite to win. On the contrary, the top names in the field all come in with some questions about the state of their games, meaning the women’s tournament should yield some exciting and unexpected results.

    With Serena Williams once again skipping the mandatory tournament, Australian Open champion Li Na is the top seed. Agnieszka Radwanska is the No. 2 seed.

    Here are five questions from what looks like a wide-open draw. You can view the full draw here.

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  • Published On Mar 04, 2014
  • WTA rankings: Serena Williams reaches No. 1 milestone

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    Serena Williams

    Serena Williams has a commanding lead over No. 2 Li Na in the rankings. (Warren Little/Getty Images)

    Serena Williams has moved into fifth place for most weeks as the WTA Tour’s No. 1 player.

    Williams on Monday matched Monica Seles with her 178th week in the top spot. The rankings will remain the same next week in the middle of the BNP Paribas Open.

    “Monica was my favorite player. I think she was pretty much everyone’s favorite player,” Williams told the WTA’s website. “I wanted to be like her. I wanted to do everything like her. I even styled my grunt after hers — I kind of changed it and made it my own. But Monica always inspired me. I’ve always loved Monica.”

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  • Published On Mar 03, 2014


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